Tag Archives: Religion

Saulsbury Baptist Church

5 Apr

My dad’s birthday is this week, and his wish was for the family to attend his childhood church. This past Sunday, we fulfilled that wish and went to services at Saulsbury Baptist Church.image-12

I have heard my dad tell stories about growing up in that congregation. He has talked about playing checkers with the pastor, Brother Albert Jewel. He has talked about joining the church when he was a small child and how his mom was worried that he was too young to make that decision. He has talked about the sanctuary being filled and people sitting in the alcoves on the side.

Thinking back on those stories, I realize that Saulsbury Baptist Church was more than a church. It was an important part of an isolated rural community. Every Sunday, people took winding roads from the surrounding hills and hollows to see each other and worship. Brother Jewel was more than a preacher. He was a central pillar of the community.

That community was Saulsbury, a place that cannot be found on a map. Sometimes, I think it was more of a state of mind. Watertown is the nearest town and has never been populated by more than a few hundred people. Some of the folks in Saulsbury had electricity. None of them had indoor plumbing. If there was a telephone, then it was on a party line. There were a few stores, but, mostly, there was the church.

I have my own memories of Saulsbury Baptist Church. When I was a kid, my parents would visit and drag my brother and I along. When I say drag, I mean it. Going to Saulsbury was not my favorite thing. Looking back, I should not have had that attitude.

We went on special occasions which usually meant going to a “dinner on the ground.” The members brought food for a huge picnic after the service. The women tried to outshine each other with their dishes. Desserts were the big competition, but it also happened with other foods. I have always loved deviled eggs, and there would always be several platters full. However, there is a thing about deviled eggs. They are either good or bad. There is not much in between. I learned at Saulsbury Baptist Church to scout out deviled eggs carefully.

I also have memories of the services. Like good Baptists, we sat in the back pews. People whose names I could never remember came by to talk to us. My grandmother sang in the choir. Somebody played the piano. Somebody played the organ. Brother Jewel always preached. He was there for fifty years.

I remember thinking that everyone was old. I am sure that they were not as old as I thought, but I always felt uncomfortable around old people. That is why going to Saulsbury was not my favorite thing.

On Sunday, the experience was different. We sat in our usual pews, but the other ones were empty. Only twenty people were in attendance, and we made up almost half of that number. The alcoves were closed. There were seats for a choir but no choir. There was a piano but no one to play it. There was an organ but no one to play it. There was a baptismal pool but no one to be baptized. There was a preacher, but it was not Brother Jewel. It was a man who does it part-time.

Saulsbury Baptist Church, which was an important part of an isolated rural community, is dying. It is sad, but it is true. Over the past few days, I have been thinking about the reasons.

My dad would never want to read this, but I think it started with his generation. Many of them left the hills and hollows to do something other than work on the farm. As his generation and the following generations moved on, Saulsbury Baptist Church never had a chance. The older generations were still there, but they would not be there forever.

Those were the generations that were making the desserts and deviled eggs of my memories. I thought everyone was old because they were the age of my grandparents and older. There were not that many people younger people around. There were few people the age of my parents and fewer people the age of me.

On top of that, the federal government built an interstate through the middle of Saulsbury. This meant that the community was splintered and no longer isolated. A splintered community with citizens who can get somewhere else quickly does not need a church at its center.

As we left Saulsbury Baptist Church, we passed a lot of houses. There may be more people living in that area now than there were when my dad was growing up. However, these people live in a different world. They are not isolated. They can get on the interstate and be at their jobs in a matter of minutes. They do not have to work on a farm in a hallow. They can breathe the country air and have access to anything they want.

They want to go to a church with activities for their kids. They want to go to a church with people who are an extended family. They want to go to a church that is a central part of the larger community.

Saulsbury Baptist Church used to be all of those things to the people who lived in the surrounding hills and hollows. Now, it is that little church around the bend that people pass on their way to somewhere else.

 

Many Great People Have Been Born on November 25

25 Nov

November 25 is a big day in the life of me. It is my birthday. I wonder who else was born on this date. Wait, I have an idea. I will look it up and write a post about it.Nov 25

1753 – Robert Townsend, one of George Washington’s spies during the American Revolution

1787 – Franz Xavier Gruber, organist who composed the music for “Silent Night”

1835 – Andrew Carnegie, industrialist who led the expansion of the steel industry

1844 – Karl Benz, inventor of the first automobile to have an internal combustion engine

1846 – Carrie Nation, anti-alcohol activist who was known for attacking taverns with a hatchet

1881 – Pope John XXIII, who obviously served as pope

1883 – Harvey Spencer Lewis, Imperator of the Ancient and Mystical Order Rosae Crucis

1914 – Joe DiMaggio, center fielder for the Yankees who hit safely in 56 straight games

1920 – Ricardo Montalban, actor known for playing Mr. Roarke and Khan Noonien Singh

1926 РJeffrey Hunter, who starred alongside John Wayne in The Searchers 

1933 – Kathryn Crosby, actress and wife of Bing Crosby

1940 – Percy Sledge, singer of “When a Man Loves a Woman”

1944 – Ben Stein, speechwriter for Richard Nixon and later a game show host

1952 – Crescent Dragonwagon, writer who has an awesome pen name.

1960 – Amy Grant, former contemporary Christian singer who became a Country singer

1963 -Bernie Kosar, Cleveland Brown quarterback who could not get past John Elway

1968 – Jill Hennessy, actress known for roles on Law and Order and Crossing Jordan

I am stopping at that point. This list will not include anyone younger than me. It is my birthday, and that is my option.

 

 

Who Is Pete?

17 Sep

When my wife gets frustrated, she exclaims, “For the love of Pete!”

(Before I go any further, I should say that my wife is not a time traveler from the early 1900s, and she does make comments that are more 21st Century sounding.)

When she says that, I start wondering, “Who is Pete, and why do we care about his love?” For that matter why do we care about Pete’s sake?

It turns out that Pete is an euphemism for God because people do not want to take God’s name in vain. After all, God plays an important role in our eternal existence. Blaspheming against Pete is not that big of a deal because he does not have anything to do with that.

However, using Pete as a euphemism leads to another question. Why Pete? There are plenty of other sayings that have been created to avoid breaking the commandment against blasphemy.

Gosh

Golly

Gosh Darn

Jiminy Cricket – although he seemed like a pretty good guy in PinocchioJiminy Cricket

Egad

Gadzooks

Anyway, you get the point and can see how those words replace words at would be blasphemous. However, Pete just does not fit in the list.

As near as I can tell, Pete is Saint Peter, the apostle that Jesus said would be the rock upon which the church would be built.Peter

This means that Pete actually had a role in our eternal life. If he had not spread the news of the church, then religion would be a lot different. In other words, taking Pete’s name in vain may not be a great idea.

Of course, Pete may not be Saint Peter.

I used to work with a guy named Pete, In fact, he is the only Pete I have ever known. Well, that may not count because Pete was his nickname, and I am certain that he would not want me to reveal his real name on a blog. Surely, he is not the Pete that everyone talks about.

It really all comes down to this. I have no idea who Pete is, but I want him to know that I hear about him all of the time.

 

The Second Coming Took Place on a Tennessee Highway

14 Aug

It was a dark and foggy night, and I was driving down a two-lane highway after a late night out. The headlights in the fog made the night look ominous, and my eyes were tired. In short, it was a good time to see things that might not actually be there.

I drove around a curve to see a police car sitting on the left side of the road. It was facing away from me, and, like my car, its headlights were hitting the fog. I could see something standing in the headlights and the officer standing by his car.

I slowed down, which was a good thing. If I had not been on my breaks, then I might have run off the road.

Jesus was standing in front to the police car. The headlights and the fog made his white gown glow. His arms were outstretched and he was looking into the sky.Jesus

For a second, I thought I had driven into the Second Coming. He was even coming from the east, and, like the Bible says, that is where Jesus will be coming from.

Obviously, it was not Jesus. It was some guy who was walking around looking like Jesus. However, I cannot overstate how freaky it was. Even the officer looked like he was taken aback.

Well, I guess it was not Jesus. Who knows? The End Times could be upon us. If that is the case, then I can say that I was there when Jesus appeared to a police officer in Tennessee. I can also be proud of the fact that I did not wreck.

A Devil of a Post

17 Jul

When my last post was published, I realized that a milestone had been reached. Yep, it was post number 666. Most people know what that means to Christians around the world. It shows up in the Book of Revelation and has become associated with the Antichrist.Dice

To mark this auspicious occasion, I decided to look into this number and see what else is out there. A recent project of mine would be a good place to start.

I read the Bible from cover to cover. At church, they always take out verses and talk about them. It seemed to me that the Bible is a book, and books are meant to be read. In other words, I felt that I would understand it better by reading the verses within the context of the overall work. I will not go into detail about all of that, but I will say this. The number 666 turns up a few times before the Book of Revelation.

Every year, Solomon collected 666 talents of gold.

It is also the number of Adonikam’s descendants who return from Babylonian exile.

Outside the realm of Christianity, the number does some other things.

The numbers of the roulette wheel add up to 666. That is a good reason for me to stick to Blackjack.

The Chinese consider it to be a lucky number.

In Lafayette, Tennessee, which I wrote about a few posts ago, it was the telephone prefix. Growing up, I was always intrigued by that fact.

Despite the luck of the Chinese and the telephones of a small Tennessee town, 666 dominates as a number of evil. With that in mind, we will delve into the dark reaches of my iPod and see what devilish tunes lurk within its bounds.

“The Devil Went Down To Georgia” by The Charlie Daniels Band

“Dark Night” by The Blasters

“Lucifer” by The Alan Parsons Project

“Living Dead Girl” by Rob Zombie

“Fallen Angel” by Robbie Robertson

“The Road To Hell” by Chris Rea

“The Devil Made Me Do It” by Golden Earring

“War Pigs” by Black Sabbath

“Toccata and Fugue in D Minor” by Johann Sebastian Bach

“The Voice And The Snake” by Enigma

“(Don’t Fear) The Reaper” by Blue Oyster Cult

“The House Of The Rising Sun” by The Animals

“Werewolves Of London” by Warren Zevon

“Season In Hell” by John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band

“O Fortuna” by Carl Orff

“The Witch Queen Of New Orleans” by Redbone

“Witchy Woman” by The Eagles

“Satan Is Her Name” by Steve King

“Bad To The Bone” by George Thorogood

“(You’re The) Devil In Disguise” by Elvis Presley

 

 

My iPod Has Issues – In Honor of a Fallen Friend

1 Jun

I realize that it was just the other day when I put together an iPod post. However, this one is different. Yesterday, a funeral was held for a friend of mine who died way too young. It was an inspiring service, but it was heartbreaking for everyone. His passing is a tragedy that will always be felt by those who knew him.

My iPod has a playlist of songs about God and all things heavenly. Some are spiritual. Some are secular. I share a few of them with you to honor Matt.Matt

“God and Man” by Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee

“Joshua Fit De Battle of Jericho” by The Golden Gate Quartet

“Angel Band” by The Stanley Brothers

“Stairway to Heaven” by Heart

“Superstar” by Ben Vereen and Marc Pressel

“God Moving Over the Face of the Waters” by Moby

“Christo Redemptor” by Charlie Musselwhite

“Everybody Knows Elvis (Everybody Knows Jesus)” by Kate Campbell

“The Ball Game” by Sister Wynona Carr

“Lonesome Valley” by The Fairfield Four

“Spirit in the Sky” by Norman Greenbaum

“New World in My View” by King Britt

“Amazing Grace” by The Beeston Pipe Band

“Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” by Bob Dylan

“Why Me” by Kris Kristofferson

“Old Rugged Cross” by John Prine and Mac Wiseman

“This Train” by Sister Rosetta Tharpe

“Crying in the Chapel” by Elvis Presley

“Tell Me There’s a Heaven” by Chris Rea

“People Get Ready” by The Impressions

Can Someone Answer My Question About Missions, Or Is That Impossible?

4 May

I usually stay away from religious matters because people tend to be touchy about such things. However, I broke that rule by asking a question in a tweet. Honestly, it is a question I have asked before, and it did not go over well at the time. That means that I should have known better than to bring it up again.

Anyway, I asked the following.

Why do churches send out mission groups to places where people are already Christians?

I ask this because local churches send people to Mexico, Honduras and other parts of Latin America where a high percentage of people are Christian.

I am probably wrong, but I always thought that a missionary is someone who spreads their faith to those who have never heard about it. This is the way a religion spread from one group to another. If someone talks about their faith to someone who already believes the same thing, then that is not being a missionary.Mission

People respond to my question by saying that they are helping people in poverty, and that is a noble cause that more people should be doing. However, helping people who find themselves in need is called helping people who find themselves in need. That can be done in the Peace Corps. It can also be done in other ways. Over spring break, some of our faculty and students went to Haiti and did some great work. However, it was not mission work.

Again, helping people in need is an awesome thing to do. However, if you are going to help people who have already heard the word of Christ, then there are a lot of people in the United States who need aid. Rural Appalachia. Native American reservations. Inner cities.

There is an old saying that charity begins at home. It is not exactly Biblical, but similar sentiments can be found in 1st Timothy. Yep, I have taken on the project of reading the Bible cover to cover and am slowly making my way through.

Anyway, I go back to my original question.

Why do churches send out mission groups to places where people are already Christians?

The first missionaries came to Latin America as soon as they knew the land existed. Beginning in the 1500s, Catholic priests roamed the new-to-them continents and took Christianity to the natives. I read that Latin America is the strongest base for the Roman Catholic Church. The people in that part of the world are Christian.

In fact, I get the feeling that the answer to my question lies in that paragraph. I hope it is not true, but I suspect otherwise. To some churches, the people of Latin America may be Christian, but they are the wrong kind of Christian. They are Catholic. Actually, I suspect that some people think Catholics are not Christians at all.

Of course, Martin Luther would be surprised to hear that, and he is the person who kicked off the Protestant Reformation. You know, that is the movement from which all Protestant denominations sprang.

I am getting off point. Instead of going further, I will ask a few more questions that I hope some of you can answer.

Is a missionary someone who spreads their faith to those who have never heard it, or can someone who goes out to help people of the same faith be considered a missionary?

I am not trying to make people mad. I am just trying to figure this out.